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Such an Unlucrative Business

By Rev. Carol Bodeau

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite poets is the 14th century Persian mystic Khwāje Shams-od-Dīn Moḥammad Ḥāfeẓ-e Shīrāzī, more commonly known by his pen name, Hafiz. He wrote about mystical experiences, union with the divine, and other highly subjective or esoteric subjects. But he was also sublimely practical.

One of the most succinct and most salient of his works is this:

“Now that your worry has proved such an unlucrative business, why not find a better job?”

Whether or not one agrees with the poet’s underlying theology—that this world is but an illusion, and so our energy is most usefully applied to connection with the divine—the truth of his statement about worry can’t really be denied. Worrying is emphatically unlucrative; it generally yields nothing but more worrying.

How much time have we all spent fretting, ruminating, tumbling through our minds all the possible worst-case scenarios. And where do they get us? Not very far, generally.

Of course, planning, careful thought, discernment and wise assessment are incredibly helpful and useful. But worrying is something else entirely. When the concern or fear generated by circumstances is turned to thoughtful, mindful awareness and practice, we feel empowered. When that same concern or fear is turned to worry, we feel more afraid, and powerless. So worrying, then, simply makes things worse by robbing us of the ability to take calm, measured, empowered action in the face of challenge.

I invite you this month to consider how much, and about what, you worry. Are these things about which you actually could take measured action, and feel empowered?

Hafiz calls fear “the cheapest room in the house” and encourages us to find a better way of doing things. Fear, of course, is an inevitable human response to a challenging and uncertain life. But worry and continuing fear are optional. What better space would you like to find yourself in?

Maybe we can inhabit hope, empowerment, community, influence, action, optimism, and commitment instead. They are far more lucrative and productive.

Wishing you a month of peace and well-being,

Rev. Carol

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